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Start Network seeks organisations to manage new Innovation Labs for crisis preparedness

  • by Neil Townsend
  • 05 Jan 17

Humanitarian surge training Bangkok 2016 © ActionAid

News Article

The Start Network is delighted to announce details of the Disasters and Emergencies Preparedness Programme (DEPP) Innovation Labs has launched a worldwide search for organisations to run the new labs.

Jointly managed by Start and CDAC Networks, the DEPP Innovation Labs is a two-year £10 million programme, funded by UK Aid, which will set up a network of labs to identify and support the development of innovative solutions to disaster preparedness. Up to four such labs will be set up in countries prone to disaster, with Bangladesh, Jordan, Kenya, Mozambique and the Philippines being the countries considered to host them.

Start Network is now seeking to identify potential organisations to host these labs and would like to hear from a broad range of organisations in all sectors, from both international organisations but in particular from organisations based locally in one of the countries listed. Start Network is looking for organisations which;

  • Are already hosting existing innovation labs or working in humanitarian preparedness, or could form a consortium that offers both
  • Understands user-centric design
  • Can harness the creativity, ideas and solutions of communities affected by disaster
  • Can lead others through the generation and testing of new ideas and approaches
  • Can convene new partners and develop networks across private sector, academia, NGOs and government bodies to support the innovation.


Organisations hosting the labs will be expected to deliver a pipeline of projects, identified from a range of partners, for example from their networks of grass-roots organisations or from entrepreneurs. These projects will aim to improve the preparedness of communities affected by disasters, using for example, new approaches, technology, business or organisational models. The role of hosts will include:

  • Supporting the innovations to grow, refine and scale either locally, nationally or internationally.
  • Supporting partners involved in the projects to build their own networks and to increase peer to peer collaboration.
  • Increasing leadership skills of the partners and enabling them to be more effective ‘change agents’ within the sector.
  • Participating in the monitoring, evaluation and learning processes of the wider programme.
  • Participating in key research topics, particularly on issues related to how to best identify and support emerging areas of innovation to have a broader impact in the sector.


Neil Townsend DEPP Innovations Programme Manager said:

“We don’t necessarily expect organisations applying to have experience of running humanitarian preparedness innovation labs, because this is a new area of work. Some applicants may be very strong on humanitarian preparedness, while others may be very experienced at running innovation labs. It is important to us that organisations selected to run the labs have close connections with communities affected by disasters, and are able to harness their creativity, ideas and solutions.

“This is a chance to support locally-driven change within the humanitarian system and to channel meaningful support and resources to the people most affected by disasters. The labs will provide the mechanism to support many new projects across several countries, some of which will have the potential to take to scale and lead to system-wide change.”

Saul Guerrero, Director of International Nutrition Initiatives at Action Against Hunger, who helped Start Network design the project, said:

“This exciting venture is an opportunity to bring together organisations that wouldn’t normally collaborate, to support locally-led initiatives that will help communities prepare better for emergencies and disasters. Our expectation is that it will produce new ideas and approaches that are different to anything the humanitarian sector has previously considered.”

Indicative procurement timetable

Expression of Interest (EOI) issued  11 January 2017
Deadline for EOI submissions 31 January 2017
Request for Proposal (RFP) issued  Week of 6 February 2017
Deadline for RFP submissions 12 March 2017
Tender evaluation complete and  suppliers shortlisted 31 March 2017
Due-diligence complete, supplier selected  and contract signed  30 June 2017
Lab set-up and go live 1 July 2017

Expressions of Interest

To express your interest in running a DEPP Innovation Lab, please complete and return the form below in the relevant language.

- Expression of Interest form in English.
- Expression of Interest form in Arabic.
- Expression of Interest form in Portuguese.

- Expression of Interest form in Bengali.

Email your response to and mark a copy to

Please complete the Expression of Interest form no later than 31 January 2017.

The Expression of Interest will be available shortly in Arabic, Bengali and Portuguese. 

Email us at

Read more about at the DEPP Innovation Labs.

Webinar: Learn more about the DEPP Innovation Labs Expressions of Interest

We invite you to join our webinar to learn more about the programme and the process of submitting expressions of interest.

Click here to read more and register your attendance. 

Keep reading:

DEPP Innovation DEPP Innovation Labs Risk Financing

  • by Neil Townsend

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